If following the Berlin Film Festival news online and in local papers has aroused great interest, perhaps you want to experience it live in person.
Luckily, Hamburg and Berlin are less than two hours apart by train – trains which leave almost every hour in both directions. Take a train which leaves Hamburg around 7:00 (earlier is even better) and you’ll arrive in time for films beginning at 10:00. Perhaps you can then return around 19:00 to arrive in Hamburg around 21:00.
But first sit down with the schedule for the day you plan to attend. (Look online at www.Berlinale.de). Perhaps, as a beginner, you should choose two films, not easy considering there are usually 40-70 films a day. If you are unacquainted with the city of Berlin, perhaps you should also choose films that play in the same or in nearby cinemas. Look at the locations of cinemas on the Berlinale website: Service and then click Map. Allow an hour between films, even if the cinemas are close together, because it usually last longer than planned if there is Q & A with directors and actors present for the festival. Or allow a longer time between films to go for lunch or to become acquainted with the neighborhood.
Buy tickets for these two films, also on the same website: Programme and then click Ticket Information and then Online. Best pay by credit card. You will receive online tickets which you can copy into your mobile phone or even print out.
You are all set. Travel to Berlin and pick up a public transportation plan in order to get to your cinema. Helpful advisors sit behind a counter at the main train station and they can tell you exactly which subway (S-Bahn was best this year) you need to reach any point of interest. You’ll get the Berlinale fever and resolve to go more often for more films, or even book a hotel room for a longer stay.
This year I went to Berlin on a Saturday and then, a week later, on a Friday. Because of my long-year experience at the Berlinale, I booked four films on one day, all in cinemas I knew were within easy reach of each other. I decided to stick with the categories: Competition, Panorama, and Encounters, with one film in the Generation and one in the Retrospective sections. In case a ticket was not available online, I decided to try my luck buying it last-minute at the cinema ticket counter. (No problem.)
I took off at six in the morning, arrived at the main train station and took an S-Bahn to Zoo Palast for MINAMATA (with Johnny Depp) at 9:30. I decided to take a taxi to Friedrichstadt Palast. Another viewer had the same goal in mind, so we shared the taxi. I saw EL PRÓFUGO at 12:00 and then stayed for VOLEVO NASCONDERMI at 14:30. From here I took a nearby S-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz and saw ZABIJ TO I WYJEDZ Z TEGO MIASTA in CinemaxX. After these four films, I was back on the train to Hamburg by 21:00. During some free time between films at Potsdamer Platz I went into the shopping center where there was a long red carpet and ticket counters. I picked up a print copy of the entire festival as well as copies of information about films in the different sections, information about the Teddy gay film section, and many other opportunities for the general public.
The next Friday I repeated my arrival times to see a children’s film, LAS NIŇAS in Zoo Palast at 9:30. There were many school classes watching the film. I took the S-Bahn to Potsdamer Platz for A METAMORPHOSE DOS PÁSSAROS in CinemaxX at 12:30. Then I walked over a block to the Berlinale Open House sponsored by Audi where the public was invited to a panel discussion about “70 years of the Berlinale – looking back.” I returned to CinemaxX for H.M. PULHAM, ESQ. at 17:00 and was back on the train to Hamburg by 20:00.
In spite of the foreign-sounding titles, all of these films were either in English or had English subtitles. I spent the same amount on my train ticket as I would have if I had booked a hotel room.